London: It seems robots are poised to have an equivalent of the Internet and Wikipedia, thanks to the efforts of some European scientists.
They are currently developing a project called RoboEarth, which will let robots exchange and store information what they discover about the world, reports the BBC.
RoboEarth will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.
The researchers hope it would allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.
The idea behind RoboEarth is to develop methods that help robots encode, exchange and re-use knowledge, said Markus Waibel from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
“Most current robots see the world their own way and there``s very little standardisation going on,” he said.
Most researchers using robots typically develop their own way for that machine to build up a corpus of data about the world.
This made it very difficult for roboticists to share knowledge or for the field to advance rapidly because everyone started off solving the same problems, according to Waibel.
By contrast, RoboEarth hopes to start showing how the information that robots discover about the world can be defined so any other robot can find it and use it.
RoboEarth will be a communication system and a database, he said.
In the database will be maps of places that robots work, descriptions of objects they encounter and instructions for how to complete distinct actions.
Waibel has likened the project to Wikipedia.
“Wikipedia is something that humans use to share knowledge, that everyone can edit, contribute knowledge to and access. Something like that does not exist for robots,” he said.
It would be great, he said, if a robot could enter a location that it had never visited before, consult RoboEarth to learn about that place and the objects and tasks in it and then quickly get to work.
RoboEarth is likely to become a tool for the growing number of service and domestic robots that many expect to become a feature in homes in coming decades.
The EU-funded project has about 35 researchers working on it and hopes to demonstrate how the system might work by the end of its four-year duration.
First Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011, 14:04